ALEX CANION COINS THE TERM ‘SORROWTAR’ IN SOLO HYMN ABOUT DEPRESSION, TAKEN FROM HIS FORTHCOMING EP ‘BIRTHMARK’

ALEX CANION OF PERTH BASED PROG METAL ACT VOYAGER LAUNCHES SOLO MATERIAL 

‘BIRTHMARK’ – COMING OCTOBER 25TH [INDEPENDENT]

Best known for being the charismatic bass player & backing vocalist of the Australian progressive metal band VOYAGER, Perth based musician Alex Canion takes the helm to navigate through the murky waters of alternative/heavy rock with his debut solo release, ‘Birthmark’.

Recorded in a guitar shop after hours and over the course of  6 years, ‘Birthmark’ will release independently on 25th October 2021, Alex’s birthday. To celebrate the launch of the EP and finally having these songs release to the world, he has now released the music video for the song ‘Sorrowtar’, a term he coined during his throes with depression.

Alex says this about Sorrowtar

“What might be the best song I’ve written yet, Sorrowtar is an ode to my battle with depression. Sorrowtar is a word I made up to try and describe what I was feeling inside at that time. The way I visualised it was as if I had black tar stretched out like tree roots from the core of my being, spreading throughout my body and infecting my organs and bones like cancer. It literally impacted every aspect of who I was and how I thought about myself. The crazy thing is that there’s always that little bit of Sorrowtar deep inside, I just need to make sure it’s not being fed! From the outset, Nine Inch Nails always came to mind as a stylistic inspiration for this song, particularly The Downward Spiral album. I first heard it when I was 11 years old and it has an especially dark aura to me which was what I was trying to replicate in this song. When played on acoustic guitar there are some sickeningly dissonant guitar voicing, which I’m proud of. This song paired with the stunning video clip my oldest friend Matt Pitcher put together, I think it might be the standout track on the EP for me personally.”

For the music video, Alex hired the efforts of good friends and local Perth musicians including a drummer you might recognise as Ashley Doodkorte, also from Voyager. The other musicians are Ben Court on Bass and Ari Remund on Piano, with Alex at the helm on guitars and vocals.

Birthmark is Alex’s first foray into the world of solo artists and features not only bass parts composed and performed by Alex, but also sees him take on drums, guitar and lead vocal duties as well, resulting in an emotive and personal journey where Alex can showcase his multi instrumentalist talents.

The title of the EP was inspired by the birthmarks on Alex’s left side of his face, symbolising his first solo effort in the music world and celebrating that which makes us all unique in our own way.

‘Birthmark’ arrives on 25th October and you can pre-order digitally on Bandcamp:

Birthmark | Alex Canion (bandcamp.com)

Track List for ‘Birthmark’

To The Fore

Mote of Dust

Habitual

Sorrowtar

Dream A Dream

Review – Steve Hackett – Surrender of Silence – by John Wenlock-Smith

Steve Hackett may be able to draw his pension these days but, even so, he has lost none of his fire or passion for making music as this, his second album of this year, clearly shows. A man who knows his own identity and is secure with his history and pedigree.

This album is his latest electric rock album unlike his earlier classical guitar album, ‘Under a Mediterranean Sky’, that was released in February of this year. On this release, Steve continues to mine the rich creative seam that surfaced on ‘At the Edge of Night’, ‘The Night Siren’ and ‘Wolflight’ and it fits well alongside each of those previous albums.

The album features all the members of his current touring band along with various guests, including Phil Ehart of Kansas who appears on the epic Shanghai To Samarkand. Big Big Train’s Nick Di’Virgilio appears on two tracks as does Christine Townsend, whose graceful violin and viola appear throughout.

Steve says on the album’s rear sleeve, “This album is a journey when no journeys were possible.”, meaning the worldwide covid pandemic that affected just about everyone. On this release Steve invites us to travel the world with him from the Urals to the Roof of Africa and on to the Himalayas. An epic album then for an epic voyage, let’s take a trip shall we as the album plays on.

Most rock fans will know the piece Eruption that was on Van Halen’s debut album or I’m A Believer from Giant, whose incendiary guitar intro made big waves in the early 1990’s. Well This album opens with The Obliterati which sees Steve using his tapping skills and arpeggio sweeps to craft a similarly striking prelude to the song Natalia, Steve said that with the orchestrations of Natalia he felt he had to stamp the guitar onto the track as a real presence and he certainly succeeds here. In fact I think if the wider rock community heard this blistering intro, they’d be amazed that a pensioner could play with so much fire, skill and technique.

It really makes you go wow, even when Roger King’s orchestrations are introduced, this still sounds truly fabulous and it is a spectacular and fine way to open the album before the more mellow tones of Natalia begin. A very moving song about a Russian everywoman who suffered at many hands over the years. This song has great orchestrations to it and you can hear the Russian classical influences.

Relaxation Music for Sharks (Featuring Feeding Frenzy) is another instrumental from Steve. It is a highly atmospheric piece with lots of great sounds and a very rocky and hard-hitting middle section where everyone is playing fast. Roger’s synth lines match Steve’s wah-wah guitar, the piece returning to a calmer state at the end, signifying that the feeding is over, well for now at least. Next follows a very African sounding song, Wingbeats, with Amanda Lemann. The McBroom sisters chant African vocals and the song has a very good chorus that sounds authentically African. The track based on Steve’s own trip to Africa a few years ago. The Devil’s Cathedral has a very gothic sounding organ, all ominous and portentous.It’s a song about unbridled ambition sung by Nad Sylvan, who is in fine voice throughout the album. The track gallops along at a fast pace, with lots of dynamism to assist its passage, all very impressive stuff.

Held In The Shadows is a far softer and more gentle song entirely, written by Steve as a love song to his wife Jo. This is a powerful and emotional piece of music, inspired by a lovely woman who has made his life better and completed him wonderfully. The album’s epic, Shanghai To Samarkand follows. Taking the route of the old silk road from China to the middle east through Turkmenistan as it’s inspiration, this track sees Steve working once again with Phil Ehart of Kansas (with whom he recorded the ‘Please Don’t Touch’ album) and this song is another excellent sonic journey with subtle but effective use of authentic instruments like the Dutar and Oriental Zither. This piece has the exotic world music influences clearly shown and, with its almost Kashmir-type riff played throughout, really impresses. Another excellent track of great music, I think l,ive it would be a powerhouse we may find out on his ‘Seconds Out’ tour this year.     

Fox’s Tango is a more political piece as Steve compares the haves and the have nots and talks about the inequalities of life these days. It could also be his view of the Trump era, short but worthy of inclusion, as is Day Of The Dead, a very dark nod to Mexico’s Day of the Dead festival, territory Steve has visited before with the ‘Darktown’ album. Scorched Earth is an ecological song as Steve tells us, “Tomorrow’s trees, tomorrow’s seas, Can you breathe tomorrow’s dream…” This song has lots of Steve’s fluid guitar playing. The album closes with the acoustically driven instrumental Esperanza (which is Spanish for hope), a brief ,delicate track that brings everything to a peaceful close and leaves you to ponder again the sonic journey that you have just undertaken.

As always, the music is fabulous as are the booklet and sleeve. This release is every bit as strong as his earlier albums and Steve has already been contemplating what is next for him once he has completed his tour of ‘Seconds Out’. I Guess time will tell but, for now, enjoy this fantastic new album from the man with the golden touch and fleet fingers.

Released 10th September, 2021

Order the album here:

Steve Hackett | Steve Hackett (hackettsongs.com)

Review – Glass Hammer – Skallagrim – Into The Breach

Glass Hammer return with ‘Skallagrim – Into The Breach’, Part Two of last year’s ‘Dreaming City’ which found lyricist, bassist and co-producer, Steve Babb, drawing inspiration from sword & sorcery novels of the seventies. Now the album has inspired an actual four-hundred page novel, “Skallagrim – In The Vales Of Pagarna”, which Babb plans to release in early 2022.

“Skallagrim is a thief who lost his memory and the girl he loves,” explains Babb. “He’s up against all sorts of wickedness to reclaim both, but finds an ally in a sentient, eldritch sword. Now his fate is bound to the sword as much as to the quest to find his love.”

Into The Breach finds our protagonist going to war, so the music absolutely has to reflect that.” Babb promises that fans will hear “a much heavier, angrier album than we’ve ever done before.”

Let’s cut to the chase, prepare to be blown away by this monster of an album! Brooding with an ancient, primeval power, this leviathan of a release sees the introduction of new vocalist Hannah Pryor who joins stalwarts Babb, Fred Schendel and Aaron Raulston, along with GH session guitarists Reese Boyd and Brian Brewer, for the band’s twenty-first studio album.

Album opener He’s Got A Girl begins our protagonist’s tale on a gentle note as Hannah’s ethereal vocal overlays a tender piano note. The peace is shattered as the monstrous behemoth that is Anthem To Andorath hoves into view. The guitar riffs are as heavy as a two ton heavy thing (thanks Queensrÿche!) that reverberates through your whole body. Accompanied by Babb’s stellar bass and Raulston’s thunderous drumming, you will not have heard anything quite like this from the band before. Pryor’s voice adds measured ferocity, matched by Steve Babb’s backing vocals. I feel like I’ve been run over by a prog powered train!

Sellsword carries on in a similar vein but with more of a grunge fuelled vibe, the reverberating guitar riff hammering against your psyche. The fiery guitar licks give a hard rock edginess and Hannah gets her head banging going with gusto. It’s like Black Sabbath and Nirvana got together for a jam session and let it all hang out, brutal and blisteringly rapacious. Now the band are really getting into their groove with the 70’s hard rock flourishes of the intro to Steel before Schendel’s artful keyboards and Hannah’s searching vocal bring us back to more regular Glass Hammer territory. The thing is, this is something that they know inside out and are masters off and it really shows, there’s almost a funkiness to the rhythm section and you can tell that Fred is on a roll and really enjoying himself.

There then follows a dark and mysterious triumvirate of instrumental tracks starting with the low key cryptic electronic meanderings of A Spell Upon His Mind which then bleeds into the more esoteric jazz fusion psychedelia of Moon Pool. The trio comes to a close with the deliciously enigmatic brooding tones of The Dark and it’s Hammer Horror-esque guitar and Hammond organ combination. Three tracks that really add a magical and secretive feel to the album, I really liked this middle section, it’s creative and imaginative and adds a lot to the overall story.

Hard rock returns with the forceful and mighty Led Zeppelin leanings of The Ogre Of Archon. The towering guitar work, edgy bass playing and lofty drums give a vast feel to the song, those riffs can really move musical mountains and Babb’s vocals add to the arcane atmosphere that the music engenders. Boy, do you really feel that these guys are having an absolute blast, these tracks are going to be immense live! There’s a real sense of urgency to Into The Breach, the intense and impassioned guitars adding a real groove to the music. Glass Hammer are moving into early Rush territory here as the album starts to feel like a loving homage to some of the great hard rock, metal and prog acts of the last four decades while never straying from the path or the passion of the story.

The Forlorn Hope carries on in a similar vein, what we have here is a group of musicians whose playing is as tight as can be but who are obviously enjoying every minute playing music that they are totally invested in. Hannah is a perfect foil, her voice resonates passion, fervour and intensity and draws you into the continued tale of sword and sorcery. The funky, repeated riff of The Writing On The Wall is incredibly catchy and reminds me of Lenny Kravitz, the whole song having something of a psychedelic aura as Hannah’s vocals glide smoothly along. This is superb, polished rock music with progressive leanings and I am more impressed with every listen.

One of the best songs on the album (in my opinion) is the wonderful Hyperborea that wears its Rush leanings squarely on its sleeve, even Hannah gets in on the act with her Geddy Lee influenced vocals. It’s a really enjoyable, smile inducing, ride from beginning to end and just oozes cool with its metaphorical Ray Bans in place. The final track, Bright Sword, is a potent, commanding reprise of A Desperate Man from the last album and closes things neatly.

With ‘Skallagrim – Into The Breach’, Glass Hammer have raised the (already heavy) bar to even greater heights. Epic in scope, majestic in scale and blurring the lines between progressive rock and progressive metal, GH have given us their best album of recent years and possibly their best release ever and it should be another monster success for this evergreen band.

Released 15th October, 2021

Order the album here:

Glass Hammer official website

All pictures credit Julie Babb Photography.

Review – Cyan – For King And Country

Taking music written and recorded over thirty years ago and rewriting, rerecording and reimagining it can be said by some to be a cynical marketing exercise and I must admit I wasn’t entirely convinced when I heard that prog scion Robert Reed was resurrecting his old Cyan band name and doing just that with the original material.

To be fair to Rob, I had to listen to the album and make my own mind up and, after just a couple of listens all the negative connotations disappeared. Whether it helped that I had never heard the material before, I don’t know but this ‘new’ album is like a breath of fresh air, the songs are wonderfully created and performed by this stellar collection of progressive rock stalwarts.

You will never go wrong when you have the dulcet tones of Peter Jones ( and his superb flute playing) gracing your album, add in the searing guitar talent that is Luke Machin and the stylish bass of Dan Nelson then you have the beginnings of something special. Take that trio and add the unique talent that is Robert Reed and you take everything up another notch and on this album they create something quite remarkable indeed.

A beguiling musical journey from the powerful and compelling The Sorceror to the emotive highs and lows of the incredibly moving title track For King And Country, I have never stopped smiling through my multiple listens to this outstanding achievement. There are some highlights, like the amazing Snowbound and its dazzling display of instrumental brilliance, the warm and tender wistful tones of I Defy The Sun, the epic and intricate scope of Man Amongst Men and the joyous strains of the beautiful Call Me, but every track is a sweet-sounding gem and whenever the amazing voice of Angharad Brinn blends seamlessly with Peter Jones then the symmetry is just perfect.

Rob Reed: “Little did I know in 1983, sitting at the school piano writing these songs, that almost 40 years later those same songs would sound like they do on this album. I remember the original Cyan, made up of school mates, pooling our money, £35 to record them at a local 4 track studio with basic equipment. It’s been amazing to finally hear the songs at their full potential, with modern recording techniques and an amazing line up of players.”

I never mind admitting when I am wrong and my initial thoughts about this release were so wide of the mark that they were downright embarrassing. Robert Reed has looked to the past to create something that is definitively of our time now. A masterpiece of intricate melodies, mellifluous vocals and intelligent songwriting, ‘For King And Country’ delights on every level and makes you smile. You can’t really ask for much more than that, can you?

Released 24th September, 2021.

Order the album here:

Cyan (tigermothshop.co.uk)

Caravan release ‘If I Was To Fly’, the first new single and animated video from It’s None Of Your Business – Their new studio album out on 8th October.

Following the announcement from, Prog legends Caravan, of their new album It’s None Of Your Business the band have released their first single “If I was To Fly” accompanied by an animated video courtesy of Matt Entecott (https://www.matthewentecott.com )

Founding member Pye Hastings comments “Back in 1970 we played a 3 day festival in Rotterdam alongside bands including the Byrds, Santana, Jefferson Airplane, Soft Machine, Pink Floyd plus many more but stuck right in the middle on the 3rd day was Mungo Jerry who played ‘In the Summertime ‘- the crowd erupted and they were without doubt the hit of the day!

When I played ‘If I was to Fly’ to the band I said “Think, Jug Band” and because I was so impressed by the power of that simple song at the festival, I wanted to doff my cap to that style of music. The guys in the band are such good musicians that they knew exactly what I was after, and the track was recorded in the first take.”

It’s None Of Your Business , Caravan’s first album since Paradise Filter (2013) is due to be released on CD & digitally on 8th October 2021 (15th October in USA, Canada, Germany, Austria & France) and as a vinyl LP, on 5th November, on Madfish Music. The release features 10 brand new songs including instrumental track influenced, to a degree, by the events and restrictions placed on society over the past 18 months and was recorded, between 24th June and 4th July 2021 at Rimshot Studio, Bredgar near SittingbourneIt’s None Of Your Business overflows with Caravan’s trademark warmth and humour and, also, a sensitivity reflecting the times in which we are living. Sitting among Caravan’s typically whimsical tales Down From London and If I Was To Fly sit the heartfelt and poignant Spare A Thought and Every Precious Little Thing which looks forward to a return to normality.

Caravan are Pye Hastings (guitar, vocals). Geoffrey Richardson (viola, mandolin, guitar), Jan Schelhaas (keyboards) and Mark Walker (drums). Lee Pomeroy (ELO, Rick Wakeman and Take That) has guested as bass player, following the departure of Jim Leverton, while Jimmy Hastings has also guested on flute.

It’s None Of Your Business cover and artwork has been created by renowned illustrator Bob Venables ( https://www.bobvenables.co.uk/)

It’s None Of Your Business Track Listing:

01. Down From London (4.03)

02. Wishing You Were Here (3.55)

03. It’s None Of Your Business (9.40)

04. Ready Or Not (4.45)

05. Spare A Thought (4.06)

06. Every Precious Little Thing (4.25)

07. If I Was To Fly (3.23)

08. I’ll Reach Out For You (8.07)

09. There Is You (4.26)

10. Luna’s Tuna (3.14)

Produced, engineered and mastered by Julian Hastings with assistant engineer Mike Thorne.

It’s None Of Your Business is released on 8th October 2021 on CD & digitally with the LP released on 5th November through Madfish Music. 

PRE ORDERS AVAILABLE NOW HERE 

(https://CaravanBand.lnk.to/ItsNoneOfYourBusiness)

CARAVAN LIVE

Caravan will also be on tour, supporting the release of their new album, in the UK in October:

Wednesday 6th October Basingstoke The Haymarket

Thursday 7th October Islington The Union Chapel 

Friday 8th October Gloucester Gloucester Guildhall

Saturday 9th October Brighton/Hove The Old Market 

Thursday 14th October Chester The Live Rooms

Friday 15th October Leeds The Brudenell Social Club

Saturday 16th October Bury The Met 

Sunday 17th October Wolverhampton The Robin 2 (Bilston)

Thursday 21st October Bury St Edmunds The Apex 

Friday 22nd October Newcastle The Cluny 

Saturday 23rd October Glasgow Òran Mór

Wednesday 27th October Bristol The Fleece

Thursday 28th October Exeter The Phoenix 

Friday 29th October Dover The Booking Hall 

Buy tickets here: https://officialcaravan.co.uk/gigs/

About Caravan

Caravan are one of the doyens of the progressive rock and the ‘Canterbury scene’, formed in 1968 and blending rock, jazz, folk and classical influences into a warm and distinctive sound.

Founder member Pye Hastings (guitar/vocals) remains as Caravan’s guiding light and primary songwriter. Geoffrey Richardson (viola, mandolin, guitar) first played with Caravan between 1972 and 1981 and returned to the fold in 1995. Their previous 14 studio albums and numerous live recordings have seen them attract a large and faithful following and Caravan toured regularly until the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic. They have a UK tour scheduled for October 2021 and have interest, from abroad, for overseas tours to Japan, Canada and South America.

The legends of the Canterbury scene band are being celebrated in a lavish 37-disc box set, entitled Who Do You Think We Are, released on Madfish on 20th August.

Review – Tony Kaye – End Of Innocence – by John Wenlock-Smith

Significant events in history are often remembered by thinking about where we were at the time. For instance, I was with a friend when I heard the sad news that Princess Diana had died in a car crash in Paris on the 31st August 1999.

The events of 9/11 were very memorable for me in that I was working in Liverpool at the time and some of our people were en-route to new York at the time and we didn’t know what flights they were on or whether or not they had got caught up in the whole sequence of events. It turned out that they hadn’t and were diverted to Canada as US airspace was closed down because of the attacks.

This meant that I had the news on my computer and kept it on all afternoon and watched the tragedy unfold in real time, via live feeds. I saw the second plane hit and saw the folks jumping to their deaths and watching with horror when the towers finally gave way.

I was appalled, shocked,horrified and angry at this senseless barbaric act. Especially as I had long wanted to visit New York and see the World Trade Center for myself. Now that was no longer possible thanks to these terrorists, well I had flown over the towers in 1989 on my way to Florida so I had at least seen them standing proud as a beacon of America before this tragedy happened. or have been conceived of by Osama and his merry madmen.

Tony Kaye was similarly moved by the dreadful events of that fateful day. So much so that he took his keyboards out of storage in his garage and began composing much that reflected his feelings about that day. Now his first solo album from emerges just shy of the 20th anniversary of those events, the album being largely instrumental in nature apart from the opening track and track 10 which features his wife.

Tony Kaye was the original Yes keyboard man who has been with the band on several different occasions, initially in their early days and prior to ‘Close to the Edge’, for which he was replaced by Rick Wakeman. When Tony left Yes he spent time in Flash with Peter Banks and thereafter with Badger who supported Yes at The Rainbow in 1972. They recorded the set and subsequently released it as the excellent ‘One Live Badger’ album, produced by Jon Anderson.

After this, he played with Badfinger and then joined Chris Squire and Alan White in the Cinema project that morphed into a new version of Yes along with Trevor Rabin. This, of course, yielded the mega hit Owner of a Lonely Heart and the ‘90125’ album and subsequent World Tour. Following on came ‘Big Generator’ and then somewhat unusual ‘Union’ project which merged a Trevor Rabin version of Yes with Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe in an 8 man conglomerate of Yes members with mixed results and a confused touring scenario.

After the ‘Union’ tour Tony had decided to retire as he was approaching 70 years of age. He slipped quietly into the background until the events of September 11th stirred the desire to remember the dreadful events in the only way he knew, i.e. musically. This album is a requiem and memorial to the near three thousand people who died that day as it explores the events as they unfolded.

It is possibly best heard in one sitting as Tony intended, the music will take you on a strange journey into those events and, yes, it may fill you with strong emotions as you listen. However, I would urge you to persevere with this as it is a remarkable journey, highly emotional and yet somehow triumphant. It works as a testament to the bravery shown on that day by the people of New York and its Police and Firefighters, many of whom are included in that death toll of 2997 people. It is also a reflection of the resilience of the American nation as they weathered this storm together in sorrow..

The album is really just all by Tony alone, although his wife Dani Torchia appears on track 10 – Sweetest Dreams – while fellow Yes man Jay Schellan also appears on Track 8 – Flight 11 – on which he plays a drum solo. The album doesn’t actually show any musicians credited other than Tony and Dani.

This is a hugely atmospheric album whose quiet dignity contains both malice and beauty. It certainly is very moving and obviously a labour of love and a dignified memorial to all of those affected by the events of that day. The artwork is by long time Yes collaborator Roger Dean who, instead of spatial visions, offers a rather more sombre view, invoking a vision of ungodly destruction and storm clouds that matches the remarkable sounding and fascinating music.

Whilst the events were dreadful and shocking, this album at least offers a degree of hope and optimism that they that the aims were totally in vain and that good things have emerged from those dark days. This is a musical experience that will require your patience to unravel and appreciate but it is a most worthy piece of work and highly impressive. The use of actual recordings from the day add great insight as to how the events unfolded and add much realism to the music. It makes for a very impressive album, highly recommended on a bold and wide screen, and is dignified and complete.

Whilst the events were dreadful and shocking, this album at least offers a degree of hope and optimism that they that the aims were totally in vain and that good things have emerged from those dark days. This is a musical experience that will require your patience to unravel and appreciate but it is a most worthy piece of work and highly impressive. The use of actual recordings from the day add great insight as to how the events unfolded and add much realism to the music. It makes for a very impressive album, highly recommended on a bold and wide screen, and is dignified and complete.

Released 10th September, 2021

Order the album here:

Tony Kaye: End Of Innocence – Cherry Red Records

US Proggers Glass Hammer release a two-song video to celebrate their October 15th release of Skallagrim – Into The Breach

Glass Hammer have just released a video of “He’s Got A Girl” and “Anthem To Andorath”, two tracks from their upcoming Skallagrim – Into The Breach album. 

Skallagrim – Into The Breach is Part Two of last year’s Dreaming City which found lyricist, bassist and co-producer, Steve Babb, drawing inspiration from sword & sorcery novels of the seventies. Now the album has inspired an actual four-hundred page novel, “Skallagrim – In The Vales Of Pagarna”, which Babb plans to release in early 2

“Skallagrim is a thief who lost his memory and the girl he loves,” explains Babb. “He’s up against all sorts of wickedness to reclaim both, but finds an ally in a sentient, eldritch sword. Now his fate is bound to the sword as much as to the quest to find his love.

Into The Breach finds our protagonist going to war, so the music absolutely has to reflect that.” Babb promises that fans will hear “a much heavier, angrier album than we’ve ever do

He goes on to explain the video. “He’s Got A Girl is a short intro piece meant to start the album and lead us into the heavier material. Anthem To Andorath follows, and lyrically sets up Skallagrim’s current predicament and what he’ll have to go through to survive it. Musically, it’s designed to hammer you into the ground! It’s not what you’d expect from us, but then fans never really know what’s coming next from Glass Hammer. It’s what, album number twenty-one? We have to expand our sound, and fortunately this heaver side of Glass Hammer is something we’re long overdue to explore.

New lead vocalist, Hannah Pryor, is joined by Steve Babb, Fred Schendel and Aaron Raulston. The band’s website is currently accepting pre-orders for autographed copies and downloads now. 

www.glasshammer.com

SPOCK´S BEARD – announce UK tour dates

Legendary US progressive rockers Spock’s Beard are beyond excited to be announcing UK tour dates for March 2022. 

Alan Morse comments:  “We’re just so excited to get back on the road again, we can’t wait to see all our friends we’ve missed so much during this crazy time. We are ready to rock! We’re planning to play some of the Spock’s “classics” we know y’all love to hear, plus some surprises you haven’t heard in a long time – or maybe ever! Come up and say hello! Hope everyone is rested up and ready for a major supernova of prog rock madness, cos we’re bringing it, baby!”  

Here’s the complete list of dates:  

14/03 – Leeds, Brudenell Social Club  

15/03 – Glasgow, G2  

16/03 – Bilston, Robin 2 

17/03 – London, 229  

18/03 – Great Yarmouth, HRH Prog  

Tickets will go on sale on September 17th at 10 a.m. GMT.   

Mandoki Soulmates launch video for ‘Sessions In The Village’

InsideOutMusic recently announced the signing of Mandoki Soulmates, featuring renowned musician, songwriter and producer Leslie Mándoki. On the 24th September, a brand-new expanded version of his ‘Hungarian Pictures’ suite, will be released under the title:

‘Utopia For Realists: Hungarian Pictures’.

A video for the track ‘Sessions in the Village’ can be viewed here: 

Leslie comments: “In his belief in the unifying power of music, Béla Bartók created his masterpiece, at a time when the flames of National Socialism threatened to engulf Europe, which served as the basis for our new album. Even more than 70 years after his death, the compositions have lost none of their topicality. So, what could be more natural than to bring them back to social relevance in the guise of progressive rock

Beginning with the piano introduction of my professor Szakcsi, a mastermind of the musical Roma tradition and Hungarian music legend, followed by the soulful performance of my daughter Julia, this song finds its musical climax in the soli of world stars like Cory Henry, Randy Brecker, Bill Evans or John Helliwell, before bringing the different voices together inunison in the grand finale.” 

Alongside the original remixed and remastered music, a brand new Blu-ray audio-visual album will be released, combining the recording of the concert film of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with an impressive cinematic realization of the individual musical episodes. It also provides exclusive insights behind the scenes of the Soulmates production live and in the studio, a “making of”. The album will also be released as a standalone Gatefold 2LP+CD+LP-Booklet, and a standard CD jewelcase.

Pre-order now here: https://mandokisoulmates.lnk.to/UtopiaForRealists-HungarianPictures 

On ‘Utopia For Realists: Hungarian Pictures’, Leslie Mandoki plays together with Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), Jack Bruce (Cream), Nick van Eede (Cutting Crew), Chris Thompson (Manfred Mann’s Earth Band), Bobby Kimball (Toto), David Clayton-Thomas (Blood, Sweat and Tears), John Helliwell (Supertramp), Al di Meola, Mike Stern, Randy Brecker, Till Brönner, Bill Evans, Cory Henry, Richard Bona, Tony Carey (Ritchie Blackmores Rainbow), Jesse Siebenberg (Supertramp), Steve Bailey, and Julia Mandoki 

Mandoki Soulmates staged a global live stream event earlier this year which has achieved over half a million plays on Youtube and over 700.000 on Germany’s leading TV channel ARD since its release.

Watch it in full here: https://youtu.be/gDDpdhuC4Rg  The Prog Rock Suite ‘Hungarian Pictures’ as a live concert film, supplemented by studio recordings, films and a comprehensive making-of documentary combined into a holistic audiovisual work of art, is further proof of the indomitable creativity of Leslie Mandoki and his soulmates. 

Background on ‘Hungarian Pictures’:‘Hungarian Pictures’ is constructed as a suite, based on compositions and themes by

Bartók, supplemented with the bands original songs. Together with Greg Lake of Emerson Lake & Palmer, and Jon Lord of Deep Purple, Leslie had worked on the seed of this idea years ago.

Leslie explains:“For Bartók, diversity in culture creates enrichment. He believed that it is precisely from these differences that art draws the strength that enables further development. He

mixed sounds and traditional melodies from different regions of the Carpathian Plain in order to set an example against the burgeoning threat of National Socialism (Nazism) through the unifying aspects of music. That unifying impulse inspired Jon Lord, Greg Lake, and me.After completing our Mandoki Soulmates “Wings Of Freedom” tour through Europe, we gave a concert in New York’s Beacon Theater. The Soulmates show was a great success with an enthusiastic New York audience, standing ovations, and positive press reviews.

For me, a former asylum seeker who over four decades ago fled from a communist dictatorship to freedom, this success in the “Land of the Free” is a very special moment.After the concert, I spent a few days with my children in Van Morrison’s former house in

Topanga Canyon, one of the old “hippie” neighborhoods of Los Angeles. I used this free time to reflect on social developments over the past few years. 

It became clear to me that we as artists are being challenged to become louder, to be a thorn in the side of society, and to bring progressive jazz rock back to real socio-political relevance. This is how the first ideas for a new album came about. It is the most ambitious and best project we ever worked on.”

MARIANA SEMKINA SHARES VIDEO FOR ‘FRIEND”, NEW ‘DISILLUSIONED’ EP RELEASED 1ST OCTOBER

Following her 2020 debut solo album,‘Sleepwalking’, Iamthemorning vocalist Mariana Semkina recently announced details on her new EP ‘Disillusioned’ set for release on 1st October. Combining dark folk with elements of electronica, ‘Disillusioned’ continues the evolution of Mariana as a solo artist. Today Mariana have shared the haunting new video for ‘Friend’ She comments,

Friend is quite a personal one but then again all songs that I write for my solo project end up being this way. It’s a song about human cruelty and how unfair people can be – it tells a story of a personal loss, violation of trust and betrayal. Of a feeling you have when a connection you thought was meaningful and profound turns out to be something fake and shallow. 

The music video was directed by myself and Eggor Kree, the long term collaborator of iamthemorning. It features the two wonderful actors from St Petersburg theatre Masterskaya, Kristina Kutsa (that was also acting in Everything Burns video last year) and Ricardo Marin-Vidal. The filming process took almost 18 hours because it was filmed in July when St Petersburg was in a terrible heatwave so for better picture and lighting conditions we were forced to shoot in the brief hours before sunset and then before sunrise, and we had to wait out the darkest part of the night in the middle of the forest. The location was quite remarkable too, it’s a place from quite a few pantings by famous Russian painter Ivan Shishkin called Ship Grove (Korabelnaya Rosha).”

Watch the video now:

The ‘Disillusioned’ EP features 5 tracks comprised of 3 original new songs alongside 2 covers sung in Icelandic and Hungarian, in which multiple layers of Mariana’s vocals combine with ambient electronica to create an ethereal choir like effect. 

Lyrically the songs on the EP were inspired by the poets of the Victorian era such as William Rossetti, Elizabeth Siddal and Christina Rossetti most of all. Characterised by her composed and unique voice and complex melodic lines, ‘Disillusioned’ will appeal to fans of Mariana’s previous solo work as well as her band Iamthemorning but those who enjoy the music by the likes of Thom Yorke, Nine Inch Nails, Sufjan Stevens and The Cinematic Orchestra will resonate with the more ambient and electronica moments here.

The EP was recorded remotely across the UK, Canada and Russia with regular collaborators, producer and guitarist Vlad Avy, alongside Grigory Losenkov who played piano, synths, bass and created the beautiful string arrangements. Drums on ‘Disillusioned’ were played by Svetlana Shumkova who also performed on Iamthemorning’s album ’The Bell’.

While self released on 1st October the EP will be available earlier to members of Mariana’s Pateron community who supported the creation and production of last year’s debut album. 

Pre-order the ‘Dissolutioned’ EP now – https://marianasemkina.bandcamp.com
Join Mariana’s Patreon community – https://www.patreon.com/marjanasemkina/